Another Pep Talk [for Writers]

Hello writer. Hello author. Hello scribe.

Today is Friday, 13th. Let me ask you, are you superstitious?

I am. Not about Friday, 13th, but about Thursday, 12th. Yesterday, I wasn’t aware that it was Thursday, 12th, but today I can say: oh, that’s why. Yeah. Because I couldn’t get it quite right yesterday. The writing thing.

You know those days, don’t you? You know moments like this. You know the time when one sentence drives you up a wall. For whatever reason. Sometimes it’s just not working, other times it’s a reason in your head. Like a superstition:

“I can’t write today, because I woke up facing north.” “I can’t write today, because my favorite pen’s gone missing. No, I don’t care that I write on my computer, I can’t write until I found my pen.” “I can’t write today, because it’s my birthday, and writing on birthdays is especially bad luck.” “I can’t write today…”

Those reasons are in our head, and they’re all bullshit. Like “I can’t write today, because it’s Friday, 13th. I’ll hide under my blanket all day, hoping that nothing heavy falls on my head.” Of course, it’s non-sensical, but think about how many people in your live reference this day as an unlucky one and you’ll get an idea how powerful superstitions can be.

As human beings we make things up in our heads all the time. Not necessarily stories (not everybody is able to do that), but theories, memories, whatever. And especially theories can make us stray from our writing path. “I have this theory that before I can write a novel about Paris in 1786, I have to research everything that happened that year, not just in France, but everywhere. I need to know the name of every person who lived and died in Paris that year, etc. etc. etc.” You’ll never write that novel, friend.

I’m not saying, don’t do research. Research is important, but don’t let your theory of how much research you should do keep you from writing. There’s a difference between accurate and over-prepared. There’s also a difference between being a writer and being a person who maybe one day wants to write a novel, or maybe a short story, or an essay.

You are a writer. You do your chores thinking about fictional characters’ lives. You sit down, tapping away on your computer. You never walk anywhere without a notebook. And if you, by some miracle, are found without paper and pen, you borrow, you buy, (I’m not saying you steal, but maybe you’ve been desperate once or twice, I don’t judge). Because you’re a writer.

And as a writer, you have to be resistent to those voices in your head telling you ten to twenty good reasons every day to not write. To do other things instead. To go out meet friends. To call your mom, telling her you’re gonna visit soon. To quickly go to the grocery store, because you can’t possibly write without some snack, and chocolate, maybe a beer (don’t drink and write, folks). To get a (non-Christian) soy latte from Starbucks. You don’t need it, but you want it. And, goddamn, you’re gonna get it and then you write 3,500 words in one go, unless…and there’s going to be an unless. And if it’s only in your head.

The world does not revolve around your writing. Nobody cares if you write 1,000 words or 2,000, or maybe 7,000 today. So why should you?

Well, because your world revolves around your writing. Because writing is art, is expression, is culture. And human beings can’t live without either of those things. Because someone is gonna read what you’ve written, and even though you may not change that persons life, you’ve given them something unique, and special, something spending time with.

You’re a writer and your text is worth more than all the reasons you can come up with to not write today.

Pep Talk [for Writers]

[This kinda relates to NaNoWriMo – but also doesn’t, because it’s for every writer out there, not just those participating in NaNoWriMo – if you’re a writer, this is for you.]

You are a writer. Or you are an author. Or maybe, like me, you like to think of yourself as a scribe. No matter the term, you are a person of some serious imagination, and that’s amazing. I think it’s important to think of oneself as a writer, to say, I’m a writer/an author/a scribe. It empowers, because we all know how life can get in the way of what you love most, and then you see this occupation maybe as something more of a hobby, or something that is not real, something that you sometimes do, but is not worth mentioning. But your creative efforts are not forgettable, they’re worthy of admiration. You ARE a writer – maybe we should all do like Richard Castle and get matching bulletproof vests to tell us, or at least t-shirts.

Now that we established that we are indeed writers, let’s acknowledge how mega-super-awesome that is. I mean, we are among the people who literarily put books on shelves, who fill online forums, blogs, magazines, and maybe even just our diaries with words. We are the ones who start tv shows, movies, songs. That’s how awesome we are, because we make people talk about some amazing thing they’ve just seen on tv, or about the book they just read, the movie they just watched. They quote us when they write about songs. They may not always know our names, but they know and cherish what we’ve written. We put words into their minds, in an order they haven’t thought of themselves. That’s mega-super-awesome.

I feel like writing is a rare gift. While many people have tried, many people have also failed. You and I haven’t, because we can think of that rare detail that makes our writing survive. We don’t stop, even though we may have two dozen unfinished stories on our PCs and laptops. We know we will find that one story we will finish, because we have to tell that story, that one story, that is stuck in our throats, running circles in our heads, makes our fingers itch. We are writers because being something else is too mundane, too easy, too non-challenging.

Sometimes, having an idea is like a spark – so sudden, you can’t really be sure, it was your own idea until you look at it from different angles. Sometimes, an idea marinates for days, weeks, months, years in your head, but you don’t forget, you develop it until it’s good and ready to put on paper. Sometimes, your muse lets you wait for something you aleady feel brimming under your nails. Somettimes, it simply knocks you down with it, and you can’t seem to type fast enough to get it all out. Sometimes, the great idea from last night turns out not so great in the morning. Somettimes, a simple sentence thought in the ruckus of a family celebration can set a masterpiece into motion.

That’s how it is, when it’s not all the other things that are unpredictable and wonderful and surprising about writing. You love it – and you hate it, too. It’s something you can’t escape, can’t explain. try to resist, get overwhelmed by. It’s everything.

You are a writer. If it doesn’t exist, you think it up. You are really that awesome. Don’t let anyone tell you different.